Presented on Wednesday, May 30 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. The United States annexed the Philippines in 1899, rationalizing its colonization of Filipinos as "benevolent assimilation." Twain, furious that his country was trying to become a colonialist power, called the rationale "hogwash" and "pious hypocrisy." Susan K. Harris examines a rarely seen political side of Twain, a man deeply engaged by world events and deeply disturbed by his country's foray into global imperialism. The questions that Twain posited publicly about America's role in the world remain relevant in 2012 as they were in 1900.
Susan K. Harris is the Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at University of Kansas, where she is a Twain specialist. She is author of God's Arbiters: Americans and the Philippines, 189801902 (The War That Sparked Mark Twain's Conflict with America), The Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain, and Mark Twain's Escape from Time, among other publications.